Entrepreneurship is an entire industry in itself. It doesn’t really matter what type of business you want to start, the primary business of an entrepreneur is business. That is, the operations just aren’t as important as the myriad of skills required to make a startup into a thriving company. The trick is figuring out how to master those skills without wasting too much time and money on the process.
The entrepreneurial education industry is expansive, with thousands of books, programs, websites, classes, and courses proclaiming the right way to succeed in business. Most focus on a single aspect of entrepreneurship, while many provide an incomplete overview of what to do. Unfortunately, very few programs actually explain how to get the job done, and why it must be done that way. Just like any other profession, there are fundamental competencies and tried-and-true tricks that are necessary to launch and grow a successful business.
So, what’s the best way to gain the knowledge you need to be successful as an entrepreneur? Here are some of your options:
Trial and Error
As they say, experience is the best teacher, but trial and error in this area can be extremely expensive and time-consuming. Even with a complete entrepreneurial education, the odds are you’re going to make mistakes and learn as you go…but starting a business with no foundation at all is just not the best choice.
Some business schools and colleges have added entrepreneurial education to their curriculums. However, the verdict is still out on just how effective these programs are, and you would be in school for at least two years, regardless. It is likely that these formal education programs are best reserved for college-aged kids to learn the very basics of how entrepreneurship works.
Search and Review
Another popular option is to pick up a variety of startup books, surf startup websites, and read startup magazines to develop your own entrepreneurial education program. Unfortunately, it is difficult to determine which information is legitimate and which is simply marketing fluff. And, because there is just so much information available, figuring it out on your own can be an extremely daunting task.
If you know a successful entrepreneur or two, working with them in a mentorship relationship can be extremely beneficial. Don’t worry about whether they are in precisely the same industry as you are entering…the business of business is business, no matter what the operations. And, you can develop a strong network of fellow entrepreneurs with just a little effort, working together to help each other through the process.
A few companies and nonprofit organizations offer entrepreneurship seminars and programs that are very good. Unfortunately, there are also a number of not-so-great programs out there that are happy to take your money but won’t give you the right information to succeed. Be sure to do your due diligence before selecting the right course – the curriculum should cover a broad set of topics including marketing, planning, and financial management as well as the more refined skills particular to entrepreneurs in the modern, ever-changing economic environment.